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Jeremiah 37


(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

Jeremiah Warns Against Trust in Pharaoh Zedekiah's Vain Hope Jeremiah, Zedekiah and the Siege
Zedekiah's Request To Jeremiah A Verdict On Zedekiah
37:1-5 37:1-5 37:1-2 37:1-2 37:1-2
        Zedekiah Consults Jeremiah During the Siege of 588 b.c.
    37:3-5 37:3-5 37:3-5
37:6-10 37:6-10 37:6-10 37:6-10 37:6-10
Jeremiah Imprisoned Jeremiah Imprisoned   Jeremiah Is Arrested and Imprisoned The Arrest of Jeremiah
37:11-16 37:11-15 37:11-16 37:11-13 37:11-16
  37:16-21     Improvement In His Treatment
37:17-21   37:17-38:6 37:17a 37:17-21

READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)


This is a study guide commentary,which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



1Now Zedekiah the son of Josiah whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had made king in the land of Judah, reigned as king in place of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim. 2But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land listened to the words of the Lord which He spoke through Jeremiah the prophet. 3Yet King Zedekiah sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "Please pray to the Lord our God on our behalf." 4Now Jeremiah was still coming in and going out among the people, for they had not yet put him in the prison. 5Meanwhile, Pharaoh's army had set out from Egypt; and when the Chaldeans who had been besieging Jerusalem heard the report about them, they lifted the siege from Jerusalem.

37:1 "king of Babylon had made king" Zedekiah was Jehoiachin's uncle (Mattaniah, cf. II Kgs. 24:17) who was made a vassal king by Nebuchadnezzar. See II Kgs.24:17 for the historical account.

▣ "Coniah" This is the contracted name for Jeconiah, whose throne name was Jehoiachin (cf. 22:24,28; 24:1; 52:31; II Kgs. 24:12; I Chr. 3:16; II Chr. 36:9,10). It has been eighteen years since the events recorded in chapter 36 (i.e., 605 b.c. - 586 b.c.).

37:2 "the people of the land" This phrase (BDB 766 I construct 75) is used in two distinct senses: (1) pre-exilic, "landed gentry" and (2) post-exilic, "common poor people." Here it seems to refer to all the people of Jerusalem, therefore, a third usage.

37:3 "Jehucal" Jehucal is one of the leaders who asserts that Jeremiah should be put to death for treason (cf. 38:1-4).

▣ "Zephaniah" In 52:24 he is called the "second priest." He seems to have been favorable to Jeremiah (cf. 21:1; 29:25-29).

▣ "please pray to the Lord" This must have been a request for a special prayer for the protection of Jerusalem, but Jeremiah had already proclaimed its defeat (cf. 21:1-14). The request does show that Zedekiah believed Jeremiah was a true prophet.

37:5 "Pharaoh" In the Bible this Pharaoh is called "Hophra" in 44:30. He is also known as Apries (i.e., Herodotus 2.161; 4.159). He ruled from 589-570 b.c.

▣ "the Chaldeans" In this passage this title is synonymous to "Babylonians," but at one time they referred to wise men from Media (cf. Dan. 1:4 online at

▣ "they lifted ths siege" However, a battle between Egyptian and Babylonian armies did not occur (or at least is not recorded) and the siege of Jerusalem was quickly restored. It lasted from 588 b.c. until 586 b.c., when the city fell (cf. Jeremiah 52; II Kings 25; II Chr. 36:17-21).

6Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, 7"Thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'Thus you are to say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me to inquire of Me: "Behold, Pharaoh's army which has come out for your assistance is going to return to its own land of Egypt. 8The Chaldeans will also return and fight against this city, and they will capture it and burn it with fire."' 9Thus says the Lord, 'Do not deceive yourselves, saying, "The Chaldeans will surely go away from us," for they will not go. 10For even if you had defeated the entire army of Chaldeans who were fighting against you, and there were only wounded men left among them, each man in his tent, they would rise up and burn this city with fire.'"

37:8 All the verbs are perfects denoting completed future action. Grammarians call them "prophetic futures."

37:9 "Do not deceive yourselves" This refers to false hope. The verb (BDB 674, KB 728, Hiphil imperfect, is used in a jussive sense. They had convinced themselves of a falsehood! The falsehood is "The Chaldeans will surely go away from us." This is expressed emphatically by the infinitive absolute and imperfect verb from the same root (BDB 229, KB 246).

37:10 This is a hyperbolic situation, given to assure the Judeans that Jerusalem would be destroyed, along with YHWH's temple. Egypt cannot help (cf. Isa. 30:6-17). Judah's army cannot help!

11Now it happened when the army of the Chaldeans had lifted the siege from Jerusalem because of Pharaoh's army, 12that Jeremiah went out from Jerusalem to go to the land of Benjamin in order to take possession of some property there among the people. 13While he was at the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah the son of Hananiah was there; and he arrested Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "You are going over to the Chaldeans!" 14But Jeremiah said, "A lie! I am not going over to the Chaldeans"; yet he would not listen to him. So Irijah arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. 15Then the officials were angry at Jeremiah and beat him, and they put him in jail in the house of Jonathan the scribe, which they had made into the prison. 16For Jeremiah had come into the dungeon, that is, the vaulted cell; and Jeremiah stayed there many days.

37:12 "to take possession of some property there among the people" The Hebrew is ambiguous but possibly somehow related to 32:1ff, although this chapter predates that account.

37:13 "Gate of Benjamin" This was the gate of Jerusalem to the north.

▣ "You are going over to the Chaldeans" This accusation was not unreasonable when one compares 21:8-10.

37:15 "the officials" This is a different group of officials than is mentioned in 36:1.

▣ "beat. . .put in jail" Jeremiah had no easy life. His messages from YHWH were viewed as treason by most Judeans, even his own family in Anathoth.

▣ "Jonathan the scribe" This position was like modern America's Secretary of State.


NASB"the dungeon, that is, the vaulted cell"
NKJV"the dungeon and the cells"
NRSV"the cistern house, in the cells"
TEV"an underground cell"
NJB"an underground vault"
JPSOA"the pit and the cells"
REB"a vaulted pit beneath the house"

This (BDB 333, KB 333, occurs only here in the OT) is possibly a cistern, converted into a place of solitary confinement.

▣ "stayed there many days" Jeremiah thought he would die there (cf. v. 20).

17Now King Zedekiah sent and took him out; and in his palace the king secretly asked him and said, "Is there a word from the Lord?" And Jeremiah said, "There is!" Then he said, "You will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon!" 18Moreover Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, "In what way have I sinned against you, or against your servants, or against this people, that you have put me in prison? 19Where then are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, 'The king of Babylon will not come against you or against this land'? 20But now, please listen, O my lord the king; please let my petition come before you and do not make me return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, that I may not die there." 21Then King Zedekiah gave commandment, and they committed Jeremiah to the court of the guardhouse and gave him a loaf of bread daily from the bakers' street, until all the bread in the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the court of the guardhouse.

37:17 "Is there a word from the Lord" The message had not changed! Zedekiah, for all his weakness, still sought YHWH, but he would not act on YHWH's message! Good intentions do not replace obedient actions!

37:19 This is a good question. Why have not all those false prophets been put in prison or killed (cf. Deuteronomy 18)? His message was obviously true, why is he being persecuted?

37:20 This verse has several commands that denote a polite request from Jeremiah to Zedekiah.

1. please listen - BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative

2. please let my petition come before you - BDB 656, KB 709, Qal jussive

3. do not make me return - BDB 996, KB 1427, Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense


37:21 Zedekiah sent Jeremiah to "the court of the guardhouse," which was a much better situation than the dungeon. The king also commanded that he be given bread as long as supplies lasted.

▣ "bakers street" This shows that merchants of one trade lived in close proximity to one another, usually on one street or in one section of a city.


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